The travel industry has been amongst the worst impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, almost grinding to a complete halt overnight. Many looked forward to a sense of normality in the new year as 2020 came to a close, only to be met with further restrictions and lockdowns. However, following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel at last.
What Are the Current Travel Restrictions?
As the whole of the UK is in lockdown (alert level 4), all but essential travel is restricted. This includes going on holiday, even close to home. At present, travel to the UK is banned unless the traveller is a British national, an Irish national or has residence rights in the UK.
In Wales, travel into the country from aboard is not allowed, unless the reason for travel falls within the limited circumstances where it is permitted, such as for work purposes, education or to return home.
Travellers to Wales aged 11 or over must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. Travel is not permitted if a test comes back positive and proof is required of a negative test upon arrival in Wales.
Travelling to England requires travellers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure and completion of a passenger locator form.
Red and Amber List Countries
Since 15th February, anyone travelling from a red list country will not be allowed into Wales. They must instead arrive through one of the designated ports of entry to the UK or Scotland and then isolate in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days.
Travellers to Wales from an amber list country (any country outside of the Common Travel Area and not on the red list) must adhere to the requirement of obtaining a test before departure. They must also pre-book tests before departure for all of their group (including children aged 5 and over) to take upon arrival.
Travellers to England who have visited or passed through a country where travel to the UK is banned in the last 10 days must also quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel. They must also take a COVID-19 test on or before the second day and on or after the eighth day of quarantining.
When Can I Go on Holiday in the UK?
With the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine programme roll out well underway, on 22nd February Boris Johnson announced his plan for exiting the current lockdown. The Prime Minister confirmed that from 12th April, overnight stays within self-catered accommodation will be allowed. He also said that the plan is to re-open hotels, hostels and B&Bs from 17th May.
However, UK-based holidaying could be postponed if cases start to rise again as other restrictions prior to these dates are eased.
It’s important to note that these updates apply to England only. Welsh ministers have been called on to provide a lockdown exit strategy for Wales. First Minister Mark Drakeford has suggested allowing some self-catering accommodation to reopen in time for Easter, but no definitive roadmap has been released at present.
When Will I be Able to Travel Abroad?
17th May is the earliest date that international travel will be allowed. However, this is subject to a number of conditions, first and foremost that cases continue to fall and further variants of the virus of British origin do not appear. Infection rates, restrictions and quarantine rules within other countries are also a factor, and will need to be considered before travelling.
This date is also subject to review, with the UK Government’s Global Travel Taskforce reconvening shortly with the aim of issuing a report by 12th April setting out how international travel can resume safely.
Again, these dates apply to England only, with the Welsh Government yet to provide their lockdown exit strategy for Wales. As the situation with travel develops, we will be providing updates on our COVID-19 Risk Management Updates page.
What Does This Mean for Travel Insurance?
Given the recent news, it will come as no surprise that popular ‘staycation’ areas are already being booked up fast for the summer months. Many accommodation providers are offering flexible booking policies and according to the Competition and Markets Authority, you should be able to get a full refund if new restrictions spoil your holiday plans.
As always, we would recommend that any trips you book, whether in the UK or abroad, when the times comes, are protected with adequate travel insurance in case things don’t go to plan.
If you have any questions about travel insurance, please contact our team today on 02920 853788 or email email@example.com.